Tag Archives: retirement

Week 78: Happy New Year! And a Resolution or Two or Three

And so it is!  A lot has happened in the past year, politically especially, but in our neck of the woods some major financial changes have happened since I started this blog 104 weeks ago on New Year’s Day (or close to it, anyway).

78 more Mondays to go, and I do think I will be retired.  And mostly if not totally out of debt except for a few items.  We are not quite where I had hoped, but that is the way it is.  We are still in much better shape than we were when I started this blog, and that is saying quite a lot.

Retirement Planning

I have Medicare Part A; I went to my appointment with the manager of my retirement fund, and have sent in a formal request for what I can expect if I terminate my employment on August 12, 2019.  That will be at the end of the summer term schedule, so that makes sense to me.  Also, there are rumors of a golden handshake in the works, so if so, I will take it if I qualify.  I should get the formal request’s information back by the end of January 2018.

Social Security

I think I will start it as soon as possible, but that may vary depending on how things move along over the next several months.  I’m not sure how it will affect our tax bracket, either, but it may be worth it for a year.  We will be consulting with our CPA very closely this next year.  I am sure the poor man is already going nuts.

Debt Reduction

Like I said, we aren’t quite where we would like to be.  Taking Social Security will help clear out the debt issues sooner, and then we will be in a better place financially when I do retire.   I have re-evaluated what we have been doing, and have changed the parameters a bit.


The Republicans claim we will benefit from their new plan.  I don’t think we will.   We live in a high tax, high housing cost state and area, so we will not be able to claim the same amounts of state and local taxes we have in the past – we claim far more than the $10,000 they are capping things at.  I’m actually worried about our 2018 taxes – I think we will owe a lot of money.  We already pay about 35% of our income in taxes, so the 2.4% we can expect in our favor in payroll is likely to go to support the corporations who won’t reinvest in their workers, only their stockholders and management, and who don’t support our government nor our citizens.  (Don’t get me started on health care, either.)  We did pay all of our 2017-2018 property taxes since we had the bills for them – this should help us a bit for 2018 filing.

Downsizing, Discarding, recycling

I think this says it all.  We have sold books, and cleaned out the garage.  Last week we created his and her sides of the garage.  While we still cannot park cars in the garage, we can access our personal stuff more easily.  We have more bookshelf space in all rooms!


  1. Pay off as much as possible this next 18 months
  2. Remove the 20 trees from the property so we can begin to re-do the back yard into a usable space
  3. Do the household repairs, little and big, if we can
  4. Continue to get rid of things we don’t need or use


This upcoming year is going to be a bit of a roller coaster ride – taxes, politics, life changes getting closer and closer.  It’s really scary, and we both need to face it and embrace it, despite our fears.  This will perhaps be one of the biggest life situations we will ever face.


Week 91: Reflections

Monday, 2 October 2017

I am getting less patient with my job and more impatient to retire.  Medicare Part A began yesterday for me.  I pretty much know what I am going to take home for my Social Security if I were to start it next year.  I am thinking . . . do I quit at the end of next year and take my pension as well, or do take my Social Security and continue to work.  Questions to be answered next year.  I still need to schedule an appointment to discuss my pension, what to expect, and the health benefit options available, or should I go on my husband’s insurance?

The big issue is really just an unknown:  what will my income be if I were to retire at the end of 2018 from pension and Social Security?  How much debt will we have paid off?

If I were to collect my Social Security and continue to work until June 2019, as originally planned, that could really bring our debt down to where I want it.  I am not really where I would like to see us – in part us, in part because of life, in part because of the payroll fiasco last June.

On January of this year, I created a spread sheet to track our progress.  I didn’t do a good job of tracking things in June and July, but when I look at our net worth, it has increased by $106,239.00 from January to the end of September.  This is from home equity, 401K, pension equity, and IRAs.

I am still unsure as to what I should do.  I know what I would like to do – just quit my job! – but that is not a viable option today or tomorrow (but soon!).  I need to collect numbers and then ponder . . . taking time for these decisions is a good thing, and knowing in advance allows me to consider many possibilities before taking the plunge.



Monday 114: Writing as a Side Hustle?

Monday, 1 May 2017

A lot of people talk about “side hustles.”  I have never been inclined to get one, mostly because my days are long and I like my time not working.  That’s when I get to do what I want, not what I am supposed to do.  The way I see it, a side hustle is part-time work to make more money, and there is nothing too delightful-sounding about that.

In my search for finding a way to be creative and find more pleasure in my daily life, I’ve been writing.  Writing is something that comes readily to me, and I’ve used it throughout my career, for reports or papers, for accrediting committees, to send off an opinion or a thank you.  Over the past couple of years I’ve taken to creative writing in the form of short stories, and suddenly it seems as if the light bulb lit up:  Maybe I could publish via Amazon Kindle Unlimited Select.  Or whatever it is called.  I’m not sure how much money I could make, and in a way don’t care, but I can see using my skills at writing to generate a side income in a way I enjoy.

I’ve also been thinking about retirement – what will entertain me during the day when I don’t have to be somewhere?  Writing, for sure.

This seems to be a very real possibility.  What would I write about?  A friend of mine published a rather good novel on Amazon, one which I enjoyed.  There are other things to write, too, such as short fiction and fantasy in many different genres.

I guess it’s time to start exploring to see what is out there.

My little efforts won’t bring in millions, but they may bring some change, and, more importantly, give me a sense of direction and excitement in a creative way.

Monday 116: Researching the Retirement Puzzle

Monday, 17 April 2017

With the idea of retirement in a couple of years, my focus is on our finances in the form of paying off bills, but it is also on preparing for the economics of retirement.  Specifically:  How much retirement income can I expect?  To get to the point where I can sit down with my retirement fund representatives, I need to take a class that is all about the requirements and benefits and so many other things.  That is on the agenda over the next several weeks.  I will do the one online rather than a group class as it fits my schedule better.

Unlike many people, I have good retirement available to me, but in my own lifetime, I have seen the benefits begin to decrease.  I have fewer benefits than people who began before me, and those coming after have even less.

It is really important to know what lies ahead in the retirement world.  How much income?  What kind of health benefits?  Medicare costs?  Time lines?  The fact is, retirement in the US is a costly and complex process, and for many, it means a drop into instant poverty.

With women still making less than men, it is especially important for women to look ahead, and to plan ahead.  I had an auntie, born in 1903, who died at 90.  She planned.  When she died, she had $500,000.00 in the bank and a ton of stock in GE, where she had worked since the 1920s.  This is a woman who did plan ahead, and she did well considering her education stopped at the end of the 8th grade.

So, that is my research over the next few months – finding out about my retirement plan, my social security, and when I need to enroll in Medicare, even if I won’t need it since I will be under Mr. 182’s insurance.

Planning ahead requires doing research, coming up with plans, and deciding what to do.  Having alternate plans is also strategically important because everything is subject to change without notice!



Monday 119: A Week Off

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Late by a day!  Currently, the 182s are enjoying a week off.

The last week of March is a traditional break from work for many involved in education.  Here, it is no different.  The only difference is what we plan to do!

Cheap thrills are the answer!  There is much to do, with little if any cost, in most areas.  We live close to a major city – if you call 50 miles close – but there is a lot to do just locally, or sort of locally.  Besides doing things by going somewhere for entertainment, things around the house can also be squared away, like cleaning the refrigerator, or other chores that require a bit more focus.

Community publications and other resources often are a great way to find things to do.  Locally, we have magazines which are free to the public because they are supported by advertisers.  Everyone wins!  Categories include things specific to age groups, and then by subject.  From my favorite local publication, topic headings include:

  • Theatre
  • Fine Arts & Crafts Fairs
  • Arts
  • Art Education
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Garden Events
  • Events (in general)
  • Family Hikes
  • Baby Boomer Generation
  • Lectures & Education
  • Pets
  • Hobbies & Clubs
  • Be Entertained by Nature
  • Sports
  • Bike Riding
  • Health & Fitness

Besides local publications, Meetup is another way to find groups with interests matching your own.

Entertainment is a big source of pleasure for people.  Cultural events, family events, get-togethers.  All these enrich our lives.

Connections with people are very important, and more so, I think, as we grow older.  Children leave the family home and the empty nest syndrome sets in.  Many women find themselves flopping around, at a loss of what to do.  Men who have worked all their lives frequently have no idea how to spend their free time after retirement.  Older people, who are outliving their friends, become increasingly isolated.  Extended families are scattered throughout the country, and often the world, so those connections begin to diminish.

We ourselves are approaching such a time in our lives.  We are planning financially, but we also need to “practice” retirement.  How do we fill our time with meaningful activities?  Such activities have to have meaning for the individual, not necessarily the rest of the world.  Personal accomplishments and satisfaction are the center of such, and can lead to outward expansion.  For many, retirement means a lot of time – how to use it?  how to use it and not just fill it?

Retirement requires more than financial forethought.  It means understanding what is of value to you.

Retirement requires practice, and what better time to practice than before the performance?

Monday 160: Playing

Leaf Dance Quilt

Monday, 6 June 2016

This weekend marks the last week of full time work.  Next week is summer hours.  What does this mean?  No more 11 hours days (those start again in August, I guess), just very short days where I can actually have a life.  And, as I jokingly say, I need to practice for retirement as I don’t want to be bored.  And this is why there are no news updates for the first Monday in June about the debt pay-off and the financial savings and savvy I display.  Instead, this is about the importance of playing.

There are people who write lists and accomplish things.  This is done, that is done, this is yet to be done.  We are not like that.  For us, there is a very real need for idleness and time to think and time to make things and time to read and time to do something that is a pleasure, not a necessity.  This can make people like us feel lazy and rather guilty when we compare ourselves to others who are more industrious, who can tear off the fascia boards on their homes and plow the back forty.  We don’t.  We try to do as much as we can, but there is always that breaking point where we either stop or decide the impingement on our time is not worth it, and will pay for it.

Play is essential for everyone.  Having fun.  Celebrating.  Sitting on the beach.  Climbing a tree.  Reading a book.  Learning something for fun rather than school.  I spent this weekend cutting out pieces for a quilt – with more to still be done – and scanning and editing film negatives.

I don’t normally quilt, but I do enjoy sewing.  I don’t like using rotary cutters as I always seem to mess up whatever I cut.  So, I bought a quilt package with all the cloth in it – the material – and am cutting out the pieces prior to sewing.  The colors caught my attention as they are the blues and greens I enjoy.  And then I got it home, pulled everything out, and thought, “Why the hell am I doing this to myself???”

Why the hell, indeed?  I realized in that instance that I have lost the ability to focus on singular activities.  I’ve been running ragged and multitasking for months.  I do this, run to that, become crazy, and remain crazy.  It is hard to sit still and focus on one thing, here pinning and cutting out pieces, and more importantly, getting into the rhythm of it.  I also looked at the directions and felt overwhelmed even before I started.  It’s then that I realized that I find it so very difficult these days to focus on one thing alone without getting bored and restless.  However, the quilt is quite small and not difficult to piece; it is called “Leaf Dance” and you may find information about it here.

“All work and no play makes Jack (and Jill) a dull boy (and girl).”  Dull as in not using my brain, dull as in learning to be helpless, dull as in not figuring things out, dull as in just existing, dull as in hiring someone to fix something that I might be able to do on my own.

I hope to change this during the summer, and figure out what the hell to do about my next year’s schedule before it kills me.